Double Olympic Gold Medal coach
Development Director at Goalscape Software
OK Goalsetters, here is my follow-up post outlining a simple process for defining a high level strategy plan for achieving your goals, using Goalscape to display the goal structure, priorities and progress. The above example is from top level sport: the principles though apply to any ambitious undertaking.
The basic process (the first 3 steps here) is not my idea, it is a tried and tested method for defining goals and planning the work to achieve them. I first heard it explained by Bill Sweetenham, a well respected Australian coach and mentor.
You can use the same process when working on your own in solo projects; and when you want to collaborate with purpose on shared projects, agreeing the goals, priorities and plans with your team, then discussing progress (and any issues) as you work.
- Define your next major goal. Come up with a brief, inspirational expression for it.
Write this as the main (center) goal in a new Goalscape project.
- Take some time to define the "essential ingredients" for your main goal. These are the subgoals that you need to achieve in order to reach your main goal – and they are directly related to your performance. You should have between 5 and 7 essentials. Sporting examples include: physical skills, mental skills, knowledge, personal relationships, equipment possession, equipment tuning, physical conditioning.
Enter these in your Goalscape project as the "level 1" subgoals surrounding your main goal.
- Next, ask yourself:
a. What are the real costs of these essentials? Money, time, external help, sacrifices in other areas of your life, etc.
b. Are your essentials fully in your control? If not, then go back to step 2 and redefine your essentials.
c. Are you willing to “pay for” these essentials? If not, then your main goal cannot be attained. So revisit step 1 and try again.
- If you make it past step 3, you have the beginning of an executable high level strategy to achieve your main goal. So you can go ahead and define subgoals for your essentials. Define as many subgoals and outer levels as you want, but don't have more than 9 essentials surrounding your main goal – in fact, beyond 7 essentials you can start to lose focus, direction and productivity.
- Next you will want to assign the relative importance of your essentials, and their subgoals. Importance is simply how much you think a goal contributes to a higher goal. Goalscape makes this real easy. Just click on a goal and drag its size to whatever you think looks correct!
Avoid the temptation to clutter your master strategy plan with operational details like logistics. You can supplement your high level strategy goalscape with other software tools for budgeting, task management, etc. Concentrate on your performance, in the moment, in your competitive environment.
As time rolls on, you might refine your essentials by gradually reorganising your subgoal structure. That's fine: just keep it simple. The overview should be immediately apparent from a glance at the main goal and two goal levels around it. You’ll know when you have a good plan because you’ll stop reorganising it: it just fits. And you’ll feel great because you now have clear direction and purpose.
When you are building and reviewing your project you can combat complexity by using Goalscape's abilities to focus the view on any subgoal, or hide the detail in outer goals.
To make a searchable plan, use the Notes field in each goal to include all the key information. You can add further detail by attaching files in any format, including images and video. Or assign people or context tags to any goal.
For team working, Goalscape usage becomes really cool and seriously useful. Upload your high level strategy info Goalscape Connect. Share it to your collaborators. Write chat comments on any goal, and optionally notify others by email. Suddenly you'll find your team is working toward a common agreed goal. You can increase progress made on outer subgoals and visually see the difference.
In my previous blog post I wrote that I gravitate toward a clean visual structure. So it should come as no surprise that I find it very frustrating indeed when I see a team of people debating over various solutions without first defining and agreeing upon the problem to be solved. Diligent use of Goalscape can eliminate all of this frustration. Problem definition is often easy, but too often incorrectly assumed or skipped!